Faculty Spotlight: Almos Trif

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Artwork covers the walls of the office of Almos Trif, professor of pathology in the College of Medical Sciences, who considers himself an “art connoisseur.”

He enjoys visiting famous museums all over the world. He also collects art from around the world when he accompanies osteopathic medicine students go overseas for medical missions. He has been to Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Vietnam.

“Every place I go, I collect very specific handicraft from that area,” he said.

Originally from Romania, Trif also sees art in internal medicine, the field in which he worked for 25 years. Trif describes internal medicine as a holistic field and a “permanent learning profession.”

“You can never be confined,” Trif said, “It keeps that part of medicine which is art. So if you ask me how much science is in internal medicine, I say that everything lab-oriented is science, but when you have to think about it, the art comes. The art of diagnosing is not so easy. You need to be close to the patient and understand his medical history and background, and 80 percent of the diagnoses come from dialogue with the patient.”

Trif also has a law degree, which he started studying for during his medical residency.

“Law school helped me understand the world because we were having lectures about economics, social systems,” he said.

Studying law also influenced his medical career.

“Once I knew the laws, I wanted to see what was governing medical practice besides the laws. Medical responsibility was only taken from the penal code not the civil code. If a doctor was ruining the life of a patient somehow, he had to go to jail, but there was no damage repair for the patient.”

His wrote his dissertation on medical judicial responsibility and it is now required reading for medical students in Romania. He’s also written bioethics textbooks and “Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, Eugenics: Great Dilemmas of the Humanity,” which was a bestseller in Romania.

When he came to the U.S., Trif also received his master’s degree in medical ethics after being rewarded a Fogarty Grant at Case Western Reserve University. Besides his law degree, M.D., and master’s, he also has a Ph.D. in forensic medicine. Because he has four degrees, he has taught everything from internal medicine to pathology and medical ethics.

Coming from a family of teachers, Trif has a legacy of teaching to pass on to his students. He tells students that he teaches not to pass tests but for them to have what they need for the rest of their lives.

“I think I push myself to give the best of me for the students, so the students can actually take not just information. They can take the ways to process that information, which makes it knowledge. For me, the definition of knowledge is the processing of the information.”

Trif believes that one of the best things he can do is to never lie to the students.

“They know that no matter what I say that is the truth, and I am very dedicated to them.”

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